an excerpt from harold fickett's personal testimony posted at godspy:
The reason that Catholic teaching on faith and morals is so important is that it represents the only informed conscience adequate to humankind's most difficult moral dilemmas-questions like whether to insert feeding tubes into our dying parents. The settled mind of the Church presents Christ's answer to many questions that leave the individual at a loss. In cases where we do not have the immediate answer that conscience demands, we need to be able to "look it up": to consult the Magisterium.
The cool reflection of the whole Church together, guided by the Holy Spirit, constantly extends divine wisdom in addressing civilization's new questions. That reflection will be needed more than ever in the coming century as new discoveries in biology and medicine present humanity with new and difficult choices.
The "hard cases" are usually used to vanquish any dependence on traditional wisdom. "This is such a complicated matter that the individual should be left to make whatever decision he wishes," says secular reasoning.
I have my own reasons to know that the "hard cases" prove exactly the opposite point: when I was in an emotional and cognitive muddle, what I needed was a dependable, objective authority.